How Recovery Helps Me Thrive in Dance Music and Beyond

       ediscovering the Colors of Life and Music

Sobriety brought clarity and presence back to my life; it was like I could see colors again. Recovery helped me find life without the fog, without the gray, without this layer of stuff, kind of like pollen, that just clogged things up and made it more difficult.

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My name is George Hess and I’ve been the CEO of G5 Entertainment and label representative for Armada Records for some time now. Electronic dance music is a passion and it has also been my profession. When I was exploring sobriety, I had this fear that I would lose what I cared about. Had I only liked the party aspect of my career, and not the music? Turns out, that wasn’t true. I still love the music, and the community, and now I can enjoy them in ways that I couldn’t before.

When I was drunk or high, I couldn’t fully appreciate the magic of the music, those wow moments. I couldn’t appreciate all of the talent and the brilliance of the artists around me. In getting sober, I found presence - being able to enjoy the immense moments in front of me, at a main stage or a show. I love when I can sense the wave, the flow of the music, surrounding and filling the space. Many times it feels spiritual. It has been incredible to again be in these spaces and venues and feel the power of the music. 

Unaware I Was Addicted 

I didn’t recognized addiction in my life until a blind date invited me to join a meeting where people were talking about recovery. I never looked to sober communities because I didn’t feel like I needed help. In the dance music industry, drugs and alcohol are a huge part of the culture. People get whacked a lot. So, if you’re upright and walking, you’re seen as being okay. 

As I listened to people share about the problems they were facing, it was like I was watching a movie of myself. Here were people actually being open about story after story that I could relate to, the same problems and experiences I had. I had been using for years, and I didn’t realize there was another way. 

The Gift of Sobriety

Today, sobriety enables me to be present with my family and my kids, and that means everything. Three of my five kids know me before and after sobriety, and they see the difference in how I show up. The fact I can have relationship with them and real conversions is incredible. Today, we're able to connect a lot, though there are still areas for growth. We are all tech heads, we all love music. It’s a joy to be able to have relationship with them, and my younger kids. I love being able to simply be present for the simple moments for my two year old son, when he’s taking a bottle or just laying on my chest. I also get to be present with my eighty-six year old mother and be more helpful in our relationship, which means a lot. 

I now find deep fulfillment through relationships, instead of them being more transactional.  I can be present with the people around me, at work and in my family. 

My wife and I both run our own companies, and being sober enables me to help serve her vision and be an active participant in supporting her career. All of this wouldn't have been possible before recovery, because I was so focused on myself. In the process of strengthening sobriety, I’ve discovered the ability to have healthy boundaries. I now can say “no” when I need to, where previously I would get stuck in people pleasing. Now, I’m happy, I’m comfortable, because I’m aware of my capacity and responsibilities and can make good decisions. So much wasn’t possible when I was only focused on my next drink or high.

A Safe Place to Be Known and Accepted

A spiritual recovery community played a significant role in my journey. I really needed to be able to sit down and say out loud what I was experiencing in a safe place where I could feel accepted. I learned that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. All of my previous best ideas brought me into addiction, and recognizing that helped me be open to new ones from a supportive community who understood what I was dealing with. Getting sober, and staying sober, isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s possible. We can walk through the process and arrive at a place where substances don’t run our lives. 

Early in my sobriety, I needed to have a sober companion around me when I was back in a club setting or other venues that could be potentially challenging or triggering. Having someone that could be supportive made a huge difference, and I learned to be ready to make a change, cancel a plan, or leave the environment if I couldn’t handle it at any point. I needed to be able to leave if I wasn’t comfortable. 

Finding Purpose, Service and Spiritual Connection 

Recovery has shown me that I can always be of service, and that is really meaningful for me. It gave me a belief in a higher power, a relationship with God. Those of us in the music industry like myself and others who have lived through addiction have a clear understanding of the hope and joy that can be discovered through recovery. And, we can spread that to everyone. I now get to take calls from others curious about my journey and offer support when possible.

It’s our duty to help and be aware and provide space for people who might be struggling under the hood. People need to know that addiction is a disease that affects the brain, and that there’s no shame in getting help. And, many need to know that it’s possible to enjoy the music and the fun without drugs or alcohol. I still have moments where I need to be reminded of what I’ve learned, and remember the importance of being present. I’m thankful for the supportive community with which I get to continue to walk out my journey. 


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